Hampden Heritage

Archaeology, History, and Heritage in Central Baltimore

Friday, January 27, 2006

"About Hampden"

One of the most interesting things included in Notes On History (in the second issue, 1938) is a poem apparently written for the Hampden Golden Jubilee Celebration by Rosa Lohr titled "About Hampden." This verse reveals several things at once about the way in which Hampden was conceived by its leading citizens in the late 1930s (or at least, the way in which they wished to conceive it). First, personal relationships were very important, as revealed by the use of personal names. Mr. Heil, a grocer, and Mr. Grim, owner of a lunch room, were singled out for mention. Second, consumption was an important social activity: six of the poem's nine stanzas are about local businesses such as grocery stores, bakeries, candy shops, furniture places, hat cleaners, taylors, and so on. Third, industry played only a minor role in Hampden; the textile mills merited only a single mention, buried in a list of other businesses in Hampden in the penultimate stanza. Finally (and perhaps a bit paradoxically for a community that was spending so much energy remembering and memorializing the past), Hampden was conceptualized as a thoroughly modern and even progressive community, as evidenced by the last stanza.

Here's the text of the poem:

As we go around thru these busy streets
Many familiar faces and acquaintances we meet.
Saturday evenings the folks go shopping
Crossing streets the autoes keep them stepping.

Hampden has many stores from which you can buy
On the price and purse you must keep your eye.
Mr. Heil has a big grocery store on Falls Road
He's a butcher and dealer, has meat by the load.

Mr. Grim has a nice large lunch room
For home cooking 'tis the place to come
They serve meals, done in the best of style;
They'r congenial, and greet you with a smile.

New System and Rice Bakery on our main street
There you'll find good things that's very sweet
Candy kitchens, another name for candy store,
Where many folks go once a week and more.

Here friends and acquaintances so often meet
Have a friendly chat and an ice cream treat.
At Freelands' corner, there's been an alteration
There they have built a Sinclair filling station.

Ten Cent stores, only two are in the town
And furniture places, a number are around.
Barber shops galore to shave and to shorn,
And beauty shops since bobbed hair is worn.

Many of our people have a moving van
With all the facilities, they can
Move any cargo to far cities in the land.
Parrish's specialty is rug cleaning grand.

Most every business in this town you'll find
Hat cleaners, taylors, and the shoe shine.
Textile Industries, sewing and laundry work
Churches, Ministers, Doctors, Lawyers, Clerks.

Here's to Hampden, a town in Baltimore
With its achievements, and improvements in store
Greetings we offer on this day you celebrate;
The past is gone, and you are more up to date.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Metapost: Comments Wanted

I used to chalk the fact that we never got any comments on the blog up to our lack of readership. However, now - mostly thanks to Bob's recent posts - that we've reached over 1200 hits, and folks are watching the blog with some regularity, I have decided to publish an appeal for additional comments. If you watch this space, and especially if you live in or near Hampden, or are from Hampden, or if issues around heritage, history or gentrification effect you in some way, please let us know about it. We really want this blog to be a forum for public discussion. Anyone can post comments - you don't have to be a Blogger member, and you don't have to leave your name.

In the spirit of this, I think I'm going to start publishing small posts from time to time asking folks what they think about pressing issues surrounding Hamdpen's past and present. But you don't have to wait for these things. Leave us a comment. If you're a regular lurker, let us know who you are, and tell us what keeps you coming back.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stone Hill Sanborne Map

Originally uploaded by hamdpenarchy.
I'v recently stumbled across a fantastic digital archive of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Pictured here is a section of a 1915 map that pictures the historic Stone Hill section of Hampden as well as a part of Chestnut Avenue and Mount Vernon Mill No. 3, now the Mill Center.

These maps are really useful for archaeologists of recent history and for anybody interested in historic landscapes because of the detailed information that they provide about buildings (often including what kind of building materials a structure is composed of).

At the same time, however they present some mysteries, because they don't tell us much about the people who lived at a site - who lived there, how they made ends meet, their patterns of consumption, and numerous other details. Such mysteries are in themselves a good reason to do archaeology and community history in places like Hampden.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Belated summary on "Notes on History"

I just realized that right before Christmas I promised to post something on the 1938 periodical publication Notes on History during the first week of January. Well, school has been hectic, so I forgot, but better late than never:

The fiftieth anniversary of Hampden's incorporation into the city (1938) also happened to be the year in which Hampden resident Robert Hayes began publishing the periodical Notes on History: Hampden-Woodberry and other parts of Baltimore. Hayes apparently published this periodical from his home four times a year. The first issue was most likely published during the summer of 1938; at least four issues were published through May, 1939. After this date, the fate of the periodical is unknown. (If anyone out there has any more information about this, I'd love to hear from you.)

This publication consisted of various reminiscences of Hampden "old-timers," brief histories of local churches, old newspaper items about businesses and people in Hampden, and portions of the membership roll of Dennison Post No. 8 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR—an organization in which many Hampdenites took great pride during the late 19th century), among other assorted items. Hampden's industries were rarely mentioned; two exceptions were the reprinting of obituaries for Robert Poole (owner of the Poole and Hunt Foundry, in issue number two) and James E. Hooper (owner of the Hooper mills in Hampden, in issue number 3). As in the jubilee souvenir book, names are prominent throughout Notes on History—the membership roll of the GAR is only one example. Others include lists of pastors and lay officials at various churches; members of social and religious organizations active in Hampden; the muster roll of the First Mechanical Volunteer Company from Baltimore (during the Civil War); business owners listed in an 1878 business directory of Hampden-Woodberry; a selection of names and epigrams from the autograph book of one Mollie DePasquale; and a list of the "Nativity of Some Hampden-Woodberry Families."

Ok, enough for now--I have to save something for next week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

place to stay for the summer

Here's a non-historical post for the week. As a resident of Michigan during the school year, I will be looking for a place to stay in Hampden this coming summer while Dave and I are running our second archaeological field season. I really just need a room with kitchen access (internet access is desireable but not absolutely necessary), preferably in the price range of $300-$500 a month (or less, of course). So, if anyone has a room that they would be willing to rent out for part of the summer, please let me know. My email is rchidest@umich.edu. You'll have my undying gratitude.